Physics and Astronomy, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 1-16-2008


This article appeared in Physical Review Letters 100, 023002 (2008). Copyright © 2008 The American Physical Society. Used by permission.

It was highlighted as an Editors' Choice in the journal Science.


We image spatial distribution of xenon ions in the focus of a laser beam of ultrashort, intense pulses in all three dimensions, with a resolution of three by twelve microns in the two transverse directions. This allows for studying ionization processes without spatially averaging ion yields. Our in situ ion imaging is also useful to analyze focal intensity profiles and to investigate the transverse modal purity of tightly focused beams of complex light. As an example, the intensity profile of a Hermite-Gaussian beam mode HG recorded with ions is found to be in good agreement with optical images.